Jennifer Landis, of Mindfulness Mama shares all the serious reasons for focussing on self-care, “even if you can’t find your keys.”
Self-care, or the concept of taking care of your physical and mental health before worrying about the health and happiness of others, is often shrugged off as something you don’t need to worry about. This becomes doubly true as a parent — we almost exclusively put the needs of our children before our own. Self-care is a concept I’ve learned to take seriously — and here are some reasons why you should, too.
Self-Care Is Different for Everyone.
Self-care is as unique and individual as you are. What works for one person might be aggravating and stressful for someone else.
What do you do, just for yourself, that makes you feel calm and relaxed? It could be meditating every day, living mindfully and eating healthy. It could look like taking a long, hot shower and pampering yourself. Anything you do to specifically care for yourself is, by definition, self-care.
For me, self-care is a daily trip to the gym, a nice hot shower scented with lavender oil, and a peaceful cup of tea before bed.
While you figure out what your particular brand of self-care looks like, let’s look at another important tidbit of information: Why is self-care so important?
It’s Not Selfish — It’s Self-Care
Taking care of yourself first is often seen as selfish. You’ve got kids to feed, a job to worry about or a house to keep clean, after all. You shouldn’t put yourself first because there are other people depending on you.
Pardon my French, but — bullshit.
You can’t take care of anyone if you don’t take care of yourself. Self-care can be a great way to reduce stress, keep you healthy and ensure you’re taking care of yourself. Stress, on the other hand, can lead to mental symptoms like low self-esteem, frustration and feeling overwhelmed, as well as physical symptoms like: Headaches, Upset stomach, Chest pain, Insomnia, Grinding teeth
These are just a few of the possible symptoms. Don’t become one of the 10 percent of tooth-grinders who end up with nubs in their mouth because you’re too damn stressed. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish: period.
It’s About Your Own Worth
Instinctively, we tend to neglect our own self-care because in the back of our mind, we believe others are worth more than we are.
We’ve been taught since early childhood to keep our self-esteem high — it’s a mark of our confidence and our belief in ourselves. While good self-esteem is something to strive for, self-care is quickly replacing self-esteem as the best way to stay healthy — both physically and mentally.
It’s About Taking Care of Yourself
People tend to neglect their self-care because they expect others to take care of it for them. I hate to break it to you, but it doesn’t work like that. I get it — it’s really nice to get taken care of or pampered by someone else every once in a while, but it doesn’t work as a constant replacement for self-care.
It’s like the instructions they give you on an airplane. In the event of an emergency, you put the mask on yourself first and then help those around you. This is the perfect analogy for self-care. You can’t put an oxygen mask on your children or those around you if you’ve passed out from lack of oxygen yourself.
While you probably won’t pass out from a lack of self-care, you will feel worse for it. Studies have found that caregivers who don’t practice self-care are at higher risk for sleep deprivation, poor eating and exercise habits, and failing to care for themselves when they become ill. As a parent, you’re probably familiar with all these things.
It’s An Ongoing Process
So you had a great afternoon at the spa and feel better than you have in weeks. Great! That’s an awesome first step — now keep it going.
I’m not suggesting spending every afternoon at the spa, no matter how great that sounds. Self-care is an ongoing process, one that doesn’t end just because you spent the afternoon getting pampered and bathed in temperature-controlled mud.
I specify temperature-controlled because if you want to be bathed in regular mud, all you need to do is give your kids the hose.
Don’t stop taking care of yourself just because you had a good day and feel good for a while. You wouldn’t stop washing your hair just because you washed it once last month, would you? What about brushing your teeth — you had your teeth cleaned, so you don’t need to brush them every day, right?
Self-care is just as important as personal hygiene.
Feel free to take everything I’ve just said with a grain of salt — and maybe a shot of tequila, it’s up to you — but don’t neglect your self-care. Even if all you’re doing is giving yourself a manicure while watching your favorite shows after the kids go to bed, that’s still taking the time to take care of yourself.
Jennifer Landis is the woman behind Mindfulness Mama, where you will find a combination of articles on all of the things I know and enjoy like healthy food, yoga, exercise, and parenting. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and About.Me.